Friday, March 22, 2013

Digital Storytelling

Photographer: Eiler, Lyntha Scott, (1946     ). Motorist, Left, Listens to a City Employee Explain the Exhaust Emissions Test at an Auto Emission Inspection Station in Downtown Cincinnati, Ohio 09/1975  Use of this photo is unrestricted under Creative Commons.

A January 2007 article by the Educause Educational Initiative entitled 7 things you should know about Digital Storytelling sheds light upon the educational uses of this powerful narrative medium. The article defines digital storytelling as "the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video, to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component." Digital storytelling can be instructional; teachers can use linear or nonlinear storytelling formats to present educational material in a fun and engaging way. Perhaps even more profoundly, students can synthesize a story to recapitulate key concepts from a particular unit.

This format of content presentation can serve "instructional, persuasive, historical, or reflective" purposes, according to the article. We all know that the parable of The Emperor's New Clothes effectively teaches us the lesson of critical thinking and skepticism of mob mentality. The Boy Who Cried Wolf illustrates that we should seek to reduce the number of false alarms we give, lest we are ignored in an actual emergency. Digital storytelling will interest students, and will give them a creative outlet to articulate academic content.

With the advent of technology, storytelling can manifest in a variety of ways. Movie-making applications including Windows Movie Maker and iMovie are easy to use and can make story writing an endeavor that spans a single class period or an entire unit. The applications can be easily taught to students and possess user-friendly interfaces. Students can make movie trailers, easily edit audio, integrate live footage, add effects, among countless other features. These programs serve as a rich medium for showcasing student talent and encouraging students to reflect upon academic concepts.

The Center for Digital Storytelling points out that the art of listening is difficult. In fact, our society has seen a profusion of professionals specializing in this very field—social workers, therapists, and researchers are among a few of these professionals. However, anyone can listen deeply. The website indicates that when individuals learn to listen, they "create space for the storyteller to journey into the heart of the matter at hand." Digital storytelling is a map that illuminates possibilities. This medium works hand-in-hand with our natural inclination for sharing narratives; digital storytelling encourages artistic self-expression and has the power to influence individuals and communities. 

1 comment:

  1. I like your idea of movie trailers. That idea could be developed in many ways for L2 learners.